Sunday, April 29, 2007

Spring Practice: Running Backs

Spring practice for the running backs can be summed up in one word: "injuries".

The practices started on a negative note when Chris Markey went down with a stress fracture to his foot. Apparently, Chris injured his foot during the 2006 season but he managed to play through the pain. He aggravated the injury at the very start of the spring schedule and he missed almost all of the practices.

Likewise, fellow tail back Derrick Williams suffered a concussion and missed a good deal of the spring. Derrick was examined by a neurologist, but his long-term status is still unknown. This is the third concussion Williams has suffered since coming to UCLA. "He has a history with this and we want to make sure everything is done right," Dorrell said. "That can be a problem with spring football. You want guys to hit and want them to learn. Sometimes there are casualties."

Williams said he will meet with doctors next week and then make a decision on his future. "We haven't talked about (ending his career) yet," Williams said. "Right now it's just about me resting my head. It's nothing I can make decisions on yet. We have to wait for the doctors after the spring. It just takes time to evaluate the head."

The Bruins are even thinner at fullback, as starter Michael Pitre is the only scholarship player listed on the depth chart. Chane Moline will see some time at fullback, as will Dylan Rush, who has been moved from defensive end.

Pitre saw limited action during the spring but he is expected to be ready by August, though his recovery from knee surgery eight weeks ago has gone slower than expected. "It's tough because I want to be in there and learn the offense," Pitre said. "But we want to make sure this is 100% in August. I'm just now getting my strength back where I can lift" weights.

All the injuries have given other players a chance to step up and prove themselves this Spring. In particular, former walk-on Ryan Carew and Kahlil Bell made the most of their new found minutes.

"Kahlil Bell has put on some weight", Dorrell said. "He’s closer to 220 pounds right now (compared to being listed at 205 last season), and we’ve been wanting to get a bigger back presence, so he’s had a good offseason. I know he’s anxious to get himself back in the fold."

Rick Kimbrel, of Bruin Blitz, said that "Bell has had an outstanding spring. He is running angry, with power and a purpose". I have never been a big fan of Bell as he didn't bring much speed or size last season. Hopefully this additional weight and motivation will up his game to the next level.

By all accounts, Ryan Carew had a great spring as well. "It's great to see how he's persevered. From being a walk-on, to coming back from his knee injury, he's really worked hard," said UCLA defensive end Kenneth Lombard, who was Carew's roommate last year. "It's just great to see him out there, getting a chance to play now. He's having a great spring and I think he's turning some heads."

Raymond Carter is the X-factor for the Bruin running game. Since he is still a senior in high school, he didn't participate in the spring practices. However, big things are expected of Carter when he arrives in Westwood this summer.

"The biggest part is he has speed", Dorrell said, "He has the big speed factor. That’s where he impacts us and why we recruited him. He’s 200-plus pounds right now and running track, and physically getting bigger and stronger and doing well. We’re going to throw him in there and see how he fits in there".

Spring Game

The running game definitely missed Markey, Williams, and Pitre, all of whom sat out the practice with injuries. They struggled for most of the night and didn't put up very good numbers. Khalil Bell had 13 carries for 40 yards with 2 TDs. Chane Moline had 12 carries for only 26 yards


(sources: LA Daily News, LA Times, Brian Dohn, Bruin Blitz, Daily Bruin, OC Register)


Anonymous said...

The Bruins are fine at fullback. They have walk-on Trevor Theriot who had an awesome spring. The coaches are truly excited with him for fall. Chane Moline is a short yardage tailback. Dylan Rush just switched to fullback from defensive end but is not as physical as Pitre or Theriot.

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